For decades, a small village in Alaska has been disintegrating and falling into the surrounding river. And for decades, the village’s residents, most of them native Alaskans, have been asking state and federal agencies for the help and funding they need to relocate the entire community. So far, the money they’ve gathered falls far short of the estimated $130 million they’ll ultimately need to make that happen. Now, the village is running out of time.
Since it was founded in the 1950s, the village of Newtok has lost nearly a mile of coastline. The reason for that isn’t under dispute: climate change has caused the permafrost under the village to melt, allowing the surrounding water to eat away at the shore. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see large chunks of land crumble and fall into the water during a storm. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, entire buildings along the shore could begin to fall into the water within the year. At the moment,there’s just 40 feet of land standing between the first house and disaster.
VICE News visited Newtok and spoke with residents who might soon lose their homes. In Newtok, VICE witnessed the loss of 10 feet of land — in just four days.